The almanac

United Press International

Today is Thursday, Feb. 23, the 54th day of 2012 with 312 to follow.

The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Neptune, Mars and Saturn. The evening stars are Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus and Venus.


Those born on this day are under the sign of Pisces. They include British diarist Samuel Pepys in 1633; German composer George Frideric Handel in 1685; Mayer Amschel Rothschild, European banker and founder of the Rothschild financial dynasty, in 1744; writer and philosopher W.E.B. DuBois in 1868; film director Victor Fleming ("Gone With The Wind," "The Wizard of Oz") in 1889; journalist-author William Shirer in 1904; Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay on the flight that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, in 1915; former congressman and longtime University of Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne in 1937 (age 75); journalist Sylvia Chase in 1938 (age 74); actor Peter Fonda in 1940 (age 72); football Hall of Fame member Fred Biletnikoff in 1943 (age 69); rock musician Johnny Winter and novelist John Roswell Camp (who writes as John Sanford), both in 1944 (age 68); Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko in 1954 (age 58); and actors Patricia Richardson in 1951 (age 61), Emily Blunt in 1983 (age 29) and Dakota Fanning in 1994 (age 18).


On this date in history:

In 1903, The United States was granted a lease "in perpetuity" on Guantanamo Bay by Cuban officials.

In 1942, a Japanese submarine surfaced off the coast of California and fired 25 shells at an oil refinery near Santa Barbara.

In 1945, members of the 5th Division of the U.S. Marines planted a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi on the strategically important Pacific island of Iwo Jima at the end of one of World War II's bloodiest battles.

In 1982, Canada, Japan and the Common Market nations of Europe joined the United States in economic and diplomatic sanctions against Poland and the Soviet Union to protest imposition of martial law in Poland.

In 1991, military forces in Thailand overthrew the elected government and imposed martial law.

In 1994, Bosnia's warring Croats and Muslims signed a cease-fire. The Croats agreed to pull back from the Muslim city of Mostar, which had been under siege.

In 1995, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at more than 4,000 for the first time -- at 4,003.33.

In 1996, two sons-in-law of Saddam Hussein, who had fled Iraq to exile in Jordan, returned after being pardoned and told they'd be safe back home. The next day, they were killed -- within hours of an Iraqi government announcement that their wives, Saddam's daughters, were granted divorces.


In 1997, Scottish scientists introduced Dolly the cloned sheep to the world. She was the first mammal successfully cloned from a cell from an adult animal.

In 1998, a series of tornadoes raked central Florida, killing 42 people and injuring more than 200 others.

In 1999, a jury in Jasper, Texas, convicted self-described white supremacist John King in the June 1998 killing of a black man who'd been dragged to his death behind a pickup truck. King was sentenced to death two days later.

In 2005, official efforts to identify victims from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York ended, leaving more than 1,000 bodies unidentified.

Also in 2005, the death toll from the heavy snowfall and avalanches in Kashmir reached 300.

In 2006, the snow-covered roof of a Moscow market collapsed, killing at least 60 people and injuring more than two dozen others.

In 2008, a Sri Lanka military attack on a Tamil Tiger rebel camp left 51 dead as violence in the Asian country intensified.

Also in 2008, Japanese officials called for a crackdown on reported increases in crime and disorderly conduct by U.S. military personnel living off base in Okinawa. Alleged offenses included rape, drunken driving, trespassing and counterfeiting.


In 2009, U.S. stocks dived for the fifth consecutive day with major indexes falling to their lowest level since 1997. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 3.4 percent and the Standard and Poor's 500 lost 3.5 percent.

In 2010, a Gallup Poll indicated that 19.9 percent of the U.S. workforce was unemployed or underemployed. The national jobless figure in February held steady at 9.7 percent.

In 2011, the Obama administration said the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages, had been determined to be unconstitutional and that the U.S. Justice Department would no longer defend the 1996 law in court.

Also in 2011, Vlastimir Dordevic, a former Serbian police official, was convicted of war crimes by a U.N. tribunal in The Hague and sentenced to 27 years in prison. Dordevic was held responsible for the 1999 deaths of "not less than 724 Kosovo Albanians" killed by Serbian forces.

A thought for the day: Ben Sweetland said, "We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own."

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